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Powerful Educator Tools for Fighting Tyranny of the Urgent: Part I

In my position as an instructional coach, I excel at identifying (and articulating) problems. I’m even pretty good at laying out workable solutions. I really stink at execution. Let me rephrase that. I’ve not been wildly successfully at facilitating widespread...

Letter To A Teacher–First Days of School for a Newcomer

Dear Mrs. Katz, My friend is being kind enough to write this letter to you today. My English is not so good yet, but I must write to say thank you. Thank you for helping my daughter in her first days in your class. She tells me you have been so kind to her and for...

Kids Are People, Too. Creating a Caring Classroom.

I’ll never forget walking my daughter to school on her first day as a kindergarten student. We lived in Austria at the time and the public kindergarten she was to attend was only a few blocks from our home. I felt especially anxious because Paige didn’t speak German...

How I Spent My Summer Break: The Teacher Version

Teachers spend their summers resting, relaxing, playing, traveling. They also spend the summer weeks learning, reading, planning and reflecting. I read. I listened. I read some more. But I got schooled, too. A family with three children asked if I would tutor their...

Inquiry and Integrated Content for Our Youngest Readers

My last year of high school I graduated early in February so I could join my parents who were living in England at the time. The freedom I experienced as an eighteen year old traveling around the British Isles after dad’s job took our family there for two years...

Shared Text Experiences

Many a parent or guardian has experienced it. The repeated demands from a tiny tyrant to read a beloved book. Beloved by the child. Most likely not so beloved by the adult—after having read it a bazillion times. That one practice alone (repeatedly reading the same...

Supporting Emerging Readers and Writers

  We wring our hands and lament that so many of our students are not learning to read and write. We wonder and debate. We study data and brainstorm solutions. We talk and plan and work and stay late and plan some more. I’ve been accused on more than one occasion...

Word Work or Word Play? Phonological Awareness and Phonics

When our daughter, Paige, was five she fell while standing on a chair. She hit her head and was unconscious for what I'm sure was only a few minutes, but to this newb parent felt like an eternity. We were living in Austria at the time and our pediatrician had...

Reading Books Aloud–Teaching Readers, Knitting Hearts

“I wish I had known that last year,” whispered Imena. Seated between Imena and Adi in the back of their 3rd grade classroom, after listening to their teacher read Rough Face Girl, I asked what life lessons they were considering. Imena said, “The lesson I take from...

Oral Language and Literacy

I'm not one of the those people who possesses the natural ability to learn another language. Please, don’t think for a minute I’m trying to be modest. We lived in Austria for seven years back in the late 80s-early 90s. I’d taken two years of German in high school and...

Teaching Young Readers is Not for the Fainthearted

I'm dating myself, I know, but years ago when I read Ellin Keene's Mosaic of Thought (1st edition) and she included Billy Collins poem, First Reader, I had a moment. A really nostalgic moment. A sobering moment. "...forgetting how to look, learning how to read." First...

That Thing You Do! Jill Davidson and Kim Stewart–A Taste for Books

This is a repost from November 2016 that I'm so excited to share. Jill and Kim are book-pushers and this is the perfect time for anyone who loves kids to catch up on titles for next school year. It's also time to think ahead about ways to get more titles in front of...

That Thing You Do! Lisa Eickholdt–Student Mentor Texts

This is a repost of a piece that Lisa Eickholdt wrote for That Thing You Do! Using student writing as mentor texts for our kids is powerful practice and the best way to honor their work. Thanks again to @LisaEickholdt! Lisa Eickholdt is guest blogging for today's That...

That Thing You Do; Tanny McGregor–Becoming A Decelerated Reader

This is a repost of a piece Tanny McGregor graciously wrote for Collaborate. Innovate. Create. a little over a year ago. Tanny was so kind to mention this to a room full of educators at a recent NCTE affiliate conference in Texas, NTCTELA. It's a perfect post to...